Previously printed in AIP Magazine
Being a caregiver for a friend or a love-one with cognitive issues that may be caused by dementia, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease is challenging and a 24/7 job.
Many families become overwhelmed even in the early stages of these diseases looking
for solutions with the smallest of tasks such as taking medication on time, when to eat and monitoring the minute by minute whereabouts of their loved-ones.
It might seem easiest to carry on doing daily routines the same old way even if its not going so well with the hopes things will get better, rarely does this happen.
Technology is ever changing and in cases such as these can make your life a lot less stressful and offer your loved one greater safety and independence. In many cases you may find gadgets that offer solutions to problems you didn't even know you had.
When I interview a new client and their family I start off by asking what their biggest challenges are and what is currently in place to deal with those issues. Many times what I learn is the existing problem is much worse than originally described with no clear thoughts on what to do or how to do it. Depending on the nature of the problem you may find some of the new technology available today just the answer.
Here's rundown on assistive technology we use and recommend that have proven to work well with our clients on a daily basis.
If your loved one has a physical disability as well as a cognitive problem consider a low-tech assistive device. Try a reacher (a pole with a claw on the end) for getting objects
that are out of normal reach or high on a shelf. This will significantly reduce the amount of calls for assistance while keeping your loved one safe from injury.
Emergency alert devices
These generally come in two parts: a base unit (which connects to a phone line) and a pendent with an alarm button that is worn. Pressing the button in case of an
emergency alerts an operator who then notifies local authorities. Keep in mind that these emergency alert devices are for home use only and require the user to be “in range” for the system to work.
This type of identification is very importation for people with cognitive problems. You may already know about MedicAlert bracelets and pendents inscribed with a persons
health information. There are now other variations, for instance, the Alzheimer's Safe Return Program so caregivers can be notified quickly if a loved one if found wandering. Other
companies such as Medic Tag utilizes a wearable USB/ flash drive device that allows medical professionals access to a persons medical records.
One easy and inexpensive option is a “nanny cam” to keep a watchful eye on your loved one via the internet from your home or office. Other camera systems available utilize a home- based computer or your home security system. Although cameras are “viewed” as intrusive by many they are a useful tool if used appropriately.
Electronic pill boxes
In some cases persons with cognitive issues could benefit greatly using an electronic pill box which automatically dispenses medications. These automated systems can be programmed for not only the day and time for distribution but provide alerts to caregivers in the event the medication has not been removed for consumption.
If setting up interactive electronics or computer hardware intimidates you, don't get scared off. Call Best Friends Companion Care. Once you get familiar on using assistive technology it could make a big difference in quality of life for both you and your loved one.